How did last weekend turn out for you? Was Valentine’s the best day of your life?
Just before Susanna went to catch the bus on Friday morning, I noticed she was taking a homemade card for her teacher. After professing her love for all things her teacher does, she had written in closing: I think today is going to be the best day of my life. I wondered what her teacher would think after reading that last line; there’s nothing like adding a little pressure to someone’s day. Perhaps Susie and I will have a talk about expectations down the road. Or maybe not. Optimism holds hands with resilience, and she’ll need plenty of that if she’s going to weather the disappointing Valentine’s Days that are sure to come.
Valentine’s Day is naturally associated with chocolate, but do you ever think of face cream? I do. Particularly when I’m mixing up a batch and slowly adding my herbal infusions to the mix of oils. I feel like a chocolatier, fine tuning my favourite recipe so certain nuances shine through in the final product.
A couple weeks ago I made my fourth batch of natural cream (one batch can last me up to a year). Every batch I make turns out a little different; some are light and silky (less beeswax), some are made with concentrated herbal decoctions, and each have their own unique blend of scents and ingredients. If I’m feeling especially romantic, I might consider this the terroir of the cream. For example, the calendula starts as spiral-shaped seed, thrown into the mud behind my house, and then becomes the base of the medicinal tea I add to my oils. The plantain gives the cream the avocado colour and soothes dry, chapped skin in mid-winter, even though it was plucked from a patch of weeds many months before. Every cream has its own history and signature–kind of like fine chocolate.
So, if you’ve worked up an appetite to make your own, read on and please share any suggestions or tips in the comments section!!! When I started doing this I found there weren’t a lot of resources, even on-line, to help me. Though recipes for salves and lip balms abound, water-based creams are a little more finicky and less popular.
Homemade Moisturizing Cream
Ingredients: water/herbal tea, oil, coconut oil, essential oils. These are the basics, the rest is up to you. I always use herbal tea instead of water because it makes the cream more complex. The herbs I use are different every time, depending on what I want to use the cream for and what I’ve harvested. Also, there are many kind of oils to choose from; I use 1 part canola (because it’s local), 1 part grapeseed (because the skin absorbs it easily) and 1 part olive oil (because it’s always on hand). During the summer I infuse local herbs into these oils and store them for later cream/salve making.
- Melt 25 grams beeswax and 63 g coconut oil in a double boiler
- When beeswax and coconut oil are melted add 3/4 oil (may be infused with herbs beforehand) and keep warm so that beeswax stays liquified. Do not boil or over heat.
- Warm up 1 cup herbal tea, or water, so it is approximately the same temperature as oil
- Pour oil into a blender with 10-15 drops of essential oil (this is optional). Blend on low while slowly adding 1 cup of water/tea.
- Increase blending speed and watch the magic of the oils and water becoming a homogenous cream.
- When everything incorporated use a spatula to empty blender into clean jars
- Label and store in a cool space. You can freeze creams if you want to keep them for longer periods (more than six months, or so).
I use this cream every night, before putting on any makeup, and to soothe dry or itchy skin. I like it for many reasons–it’s moisturizing effect, the anti-bacterial qualities of the herbs, the absence of questionable chemicals, and that makes it me feel like a chocolatier…
When Susanna came home from school last Friday I asked her about her day. “Was it the best day of your life?”
“Yeah,” she responded, without thinking too hard.
I tried to figure out what made it so awesome–the cards? the treats? watching Olympic figure skating and hockey during class time?–but she wasn’t interested in dissecting the day any further. Then, yesterday, while out on a walk I noticed another mom pulling her two small children behind her in a snow scoop.
I nodded hello and her boy shouted, “This is the BEST day of my life!”
Was it the snow scoop ride? The sun? His mom? Who knows, but isn’t comforting to think of all the little people around us who are having the best days of their lives without too much effort?
PS. I can’t remember from where I adapted this cream recipe. I do know that The Boreal Herbal is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in herbs and DIY projects. The recipe in Beverly Gray’s book is a little more oily, but still turns out nicely.
PPS. Thanks for your excitement and congratulations on the subject of my last post. I knew many of you had already heard that I’m expecting, but it was still such fun to write.
*This post was added to Nourishing Joy‘s Thank Goodness it’s Monday carnival*